Post-flood ray of light for Melinda Downs

Oakmore Park gifts bulls to flood-stricken Melinda Downs


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The Harms family from Oakmore Park stud, have donated two Droughtmaster bulls to the Locke family, Melinda Downs, Cloncurry, to help bolster their herd rebuild post-flood, providing a prime example of the way the northern beef industry has helped their own following February's devastating event.

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Support: Danny and Tara Locke, Melinda Downs, Cloncurry with one of the two bulls donated to them by the Harms family, Oakmore Droughtmasters, Greenmount, to help rebuild their herd after they suffered heavy losses during the February floods.

Support: Danny and Tara Locke, Melinda Downs, Cloncurry with one of the two bulls donated to them by the Harms family, Oakmore Droughtmasters, Greenmount, to help rebuild their herd after they suffered heavy losses during the February floods.

Rays of light and hope have been shining through the dark cloud of loss and despair many livestock producers in the state's North West have been suffering through, following February's flood event.

Danny and Tara Locke, along with their children Matthew, Emma and Jessica, felt the impact of the devastation first-hand on 13,000ha commercial Droughtmaster breeding operation Melinda Downs, situated 140km north of Cloncurry, which Danny has managed for owner Peter Hickson for 13 years.

Tara said across the six days of the historic weather event, they received 550mm of rain and constant wind with the temperature dropping by as much as 27 degrees from the previous week.

"Our cattle suffered and died from exposure and bogging in the mud," she said.

"We lost approximately 70 cows and 100 calves in that time, and we still have rain-scald affected cattle on-property now. Our surrounding road infrastructure and fencing were also badly damaged."

While this disaster was unfolding, and at the time, climatically-speaking, a world away, Greenmount-based stud Droughtmaster operators Greg and Sharon Harms and their sons Liam and Regan, were busy preparing their Oakmore Park sale draft for the February All Breeds Sale at CQLX, Gracemere, while battling through the ongoing dry conditions.

"We could only look on in sheer disbelief as the news and pictures filtered through of the huge loss of livestock, infrastructure, the damage to the landscape and what it would take to get these people back on their feet," Sharon said.

The 25-month-old bulls' Oakmore Park Lavonte (pictured) and Oakmore Park Lucas carry the bloodlines of Oakmore Parks' lead sire Oakmore Kadir.

The 25-month-old bulls' Oakmore Park Lavonte (pictured) and Oakmore Park Lucas carry the bloodlines of Oakmore Parks' lead sire Oakmore Kadir.

"Our thoughts turned to the people we had come to know and befriend throughout our years of selling stud bulls," she said.

"We contacted Danny and Tara to see if they were okay, to offer them our support, and to let them know no matter what the distance that we were thinking of them."

Sharon said prior to the sale she'd discussed with Regan, the options available if any of their sale team didn't sell.

"The drought conditions on the Southern Downs meant bringing back any unsold lots, and carrying them over until the spring bull sale season wasn't an option."

"One of the possibilities I talked about with Regan, was to make further contact with Melinda Downs if any bulls were passed in."

She said it was this course of action that Regan told the family he wanted to follow when two of his bulls didn't sell.

Danny said when Sharon phoned with the offer of donating the two bulls to Melinda Downs, they were "taken aback by someone making such a lovely gesture".

"You could have knocked us over with a feather, but knowing Sharon and her family it's not surprising they would choose to do something like this. They're a wonderful family with a great passion for the stud and broader beef industry," he said.

The kindness didn't end there though, with Sharon and Regan then organising to leave the bulls at CQLX to be fed and looked after whilst waiting for transport.

"A huge thank you to Gavin Tickle and his crew at CQLX who waived their yard fees and fed the bulls for close to three weeks while transport was sorted out," Sharon said.

Oakmore Park Lucas (pictured) and Oakmore Park Lavonte have been joined with a selection of heifers in the pure Droughtmaster breeding operation at Melinda Downs.

Oakmore Park Lucas (pictured) and Oakmore Park Lavonte have been joined with a selection of heifers in the pure Droughtmaster breeding operation at Melinda Downs.

She said great examples of empathy for their industry colleagues were also shown by sale agents Elders, who waived their fees on the two bulls, Sue Walton and the team at the Barcaldine Saleyards who waived their fees for feeding and holding the bulls en route to Cloncurry, and Alpha Freightliners who took the bulls from CQLX to Barcaldine where Danny then picked them up from.

"We received a call from Danny when he had them on the truck to let us know that they were safely on their way north," Sharon said.

Regan said the pair of 25-month-old bulls, Oakmore Park Lavonte and Oakmore Park Lucas have impeccable temperaments, possess tropical coats and carry the bloodlines of their lead sire Oakmore Kadir.

Since arriving at Melinda Downs, Danny said the bulls have been joined with a selection of heifers in their breeding operation.

"The weaners from these bulls will be held back until they reach close to 300kg and then sold into the southern backgrounding market and/or the live export market.," he said.

Sharon said they know that it's going to take a long time before the producers impacted by the extraordinary event are fully recovered.

"However with the support of the many volunteers, the generous donations and the knowledge that they aren't alone, will give them the strength to battle through the adversity, and bolster their passion for our great industry."

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